Oh so many memories! Boomers will remember where they were when they first heard each of the familiar songs – “Say No More,” “Crying,” “Hurt So Bad” – that John Lloyd Young sings in his cabaret debut, “My Turn,” at the Café Carlyle. Best known for his Tony winning Broadway role as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys,” Young, 38, looks the part of a clean cut, mid-century teen. This is especially true when the high tenor sings The Four Seasons hit, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
The almost monotonous sound of one number after another –first following the theme falling in love and then breaking up– much like that of a stack of the popular 45 discs of the day, was saved by the seven piece band and the arrangements by his talented musical director, “Glee” music producer Tommy Faragher. In addition to Faragher on piano, guitarist John Putnam enhanced the show as did Paul Socolow on bass, Eric Kalb on drums, Goke Erem on violin, Eddy Malave on viola and Leigh Stuart on cello. Their harmony helped capture the right sound in “Only You” and “Hey There Lonely Girl.”
Young seems more at ease on the Broadway stage; he appears out of his comfort zone when he’s out of character and without a script. He reads many of the lyrics and even much of his chatter doesn’t appear spontaneous. At one point, there was even awkward dead time while he searched his notes. He’s at his best in the Frankie Valli role; his own style is less developed, and although he mentions the age of transparency, he doesn’t reveal much of his personality as anticipated on a cabaret stage. After sharing a bit of seemingly memorized history of the Café Carlyle, one couldn’t help but think this young man was almost intimidated to be performing in this well known venue.
A highlight of the set was Young’s rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Although the soul was missing in much of Young’s performance, the nostalgic fifties and sixties love songs with Faragher’s arrangements contributed to an enjoyable evening. “My Turn” continues at the Café Carlyle Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:45 pm until February 23rd. For reservations call 212-744-1600 or www.thecarlyle.com